Green Party President Peter Sinkamba says he is still optimistic that Finance Minister Margret Mwanakatwe will deliver on the repayment of the US$750 Million Eurobond repayment which is due in 2022.
Responding to a press query on the K5 Billion first quarter 2018 budget overrun, Mr. Sinkamba said the overrun is quite depressing. He has called upon Ms Mwanakatwe to be on top of things and immediately implement some of the measures discussed.
He said Ms Mwanakatwe has goodwill of the majority of Zambians. He prodded her not squander this golden opportunity.
“It is quite depressing that in the first quarter alone, the 2018 budget has been overrun by K5 Billion. This means from the of K71.7 Billion budgeted for the year, we only have a paltry K27.8 Billion remaining. This clearly shows we are in red and the only way out is to trigger some emergency measures,” he said.
“Moving forward, Ms Mwanakatwe needs to put her foot down. She needs to drastically cut budgeted expenditure. Unbudgeted expenditure should be a no-go area. If anything, now is the time to be on top of things and set the austerity measures into fully-fledged mode,” he added.
“To start with, Ms Mwanakatwe must start implementing some of the measures we discussed aimed at generating funds to repay the US$750 Million Eurobond loan. Some of the measures we proposed require a gestation period of three years. Therefore, now is the time to set the measures into motion,” he said.
With regard to the budget overrun, he said that the starting point is the issue of personal-to-holder cars. He said Ms. Mwanakatwe must order that all personal-to-holder cars be parked forthwith. He has also suggested that apart from defence, security and emergency vehicles only a limited number of pool vehicles should be allowed to service ministries and all government agencies.
“This is the moment of truth. She must make up for the budget overrun. The starting point is to drastically cut recurrent spending, especially on public service transport support. She should order that all personal-to-holder cars be parked forthwith. Ministers and the rest who hold public offices should find their way to and from respective offices. The only exemption should be the President, Vice President, as well as defence, security and emergency vehicles. The rest should use their own transport. She must live by example. So, she should be the first to surrender her car, and other ministers should follow suit” Mr. Sinkamba said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sinkamba has commended recent moves by the PF and UPND youths to reconcile and make peace.
“We are extremely delighted that PF and UPND youths have made commendable moves to reconcile. We all know this is a complicated world. There are times when we may be called to arms, but as the Greens, we maintain that violence is almost always self-defeating, and always must be the very, very last choice. Therefore, we must all work to end violence and eliminate the root causes of this ugly crime. So, what the PF and UPND youths are doing must be applauded by all well-meaning Zambians, and we encourage the two groups to continue on this trajectory,” he said.